Auctions feature Ted Williams memorabilia

A signed baseball inscribed "to my pal Ted Williams from Babe Ruth" has a presale estimate available only on request from Hunt Auctions.
A signed baseball inscribed "to my pal Ted Williams from Babe Ruth" has a presale estimate available only on request from Hunt Auctions.
Posted: April 06, 2012

Hunt Auctions, the Exton sports-memorabilia outfit whose sales frequently take place in conjunction with major sporting events all over the country, will help Boston's Fenway Park celebrate its 100th anniversary with a sale there featuring the personal collection of Ted Williams - who spent his entire major league baseball career playing with the Red Sox.

The 700-lot sale April 28 will also feature Fenway Park historic memorabilia, notably the April 20, 1919 opening day first-pitch baseball. According to a Hunt release, online bidding on the baseball, accessible at www.huntauctions.com, reached $140,000 hours after it opened.

Williams, who died in July 2002 at 83, was a Red Sox leftfielder from 1939 to 1960 (with time out from 1942 to 1946 and 1952 to 1953 as a U.S. Marine Corps pilot). His fame rested on a .344 career batting average (.406 in 1941) and six American League batting championships. He also was Most Valuable Player in 1946 and 1949 and appeared in 18 All-Star Games.

Some of the auction items reflect those highlights. His 1949 MVP plaque has a presale price estimate of $150,000 to $250,000, according to the release; online bidding had already reached $146,410 by the start of the week. And his silver bat as 1957 American League batting champion has a presale estimate of $100,000 to $200,000.

The first session, beginning at 10 a.m. at the park's State Street Pavilion, 4 Yawkey Way, will offer 335 lots, starting with more than 100 lots of signed photographs and baseballs, including a dozen lots autographed by Williams, President George H.W. Bush, and Joe DiMaggio. The session also will offer Williams' military memorabilia, 15 lots of personal bank checks, more than 80 lots of gold coins that he had collected, and his own sporting goods, including fishing tackle and firearms.

Most have three-figure presale estimates, but his custom-made Winchester Model 21 side-by-side shotgun is expected to bring $10,000 to $20,000.

The session's two top lots will be offered toward its close. Williams' 1955 Boston Red Sox professional model road jersey has a presale estimate of $75,000 to $100,000. And the opening day baseball, the session's final item, has a presale estimate so high that Hunt will disclose it only in response to individual requests.

The 1949 MVP plaque and the 1957 American League batting championship silver bat are among highlights of the auction's second session, beginning at 2:30 p.m. April 28.

The session's top lot is probably a single signed baseball inscribed "to my pal Ted Williams from Babe Ruth." It also has a presale estimate available only on request.

According to the catalog description, the ball was signed by Ruth on July 13, 1943, before the start of a war bond exhibition game at Fenway Park where Ruth and Williams met for the first time. Ruth was team manager and, according to contemporary news accounts, told Williams he was "one of the most natural ballplayers I've ever seen."

Williams said more than once in later years that the ball was the "only one I ever wanted." As of midweek, online bidding had reached $44,330.

Other afternoon-session highlights: Williams' Hall of Fame induction ring ($30,000 to $50,000); his 1957 Babe Ruth Sultan of Swat Award ($50,000 to $75,000); and his 1960 All-Star Game professional-model baseball bat. ($30,000 to $40,000).

Part of the proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Jimmy Fund, a Boston charity based at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which is known for its affiliation with Williams and the Red Sox.

Auction festivities will begin April 25 at Fenway Park, when all 700 lots will go on display at the State Street Pavilion. Exhibition hours will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 25, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 26, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 27, with a private preview party that evening.

Bids will be accepted in person at the live auction, or absentee bidding can be done via phone at 610-524-0822 or online at www.huntauctions.com. Absentee bids will be accepted until 5 p.m. April 26. Online pre-bidding will close at 11 p.m. that day.

Golfing items at Briggs. A Briggs Auction sale will also coincide with an April sports event, the Masters golf tournament this weekend in Augusta, Ga. Beginning at 4 p.m. Friday, an hour earlier than usual, at the gallery in Garnet Valley, Briggs will offer 200 lots of golf clubs and memorabilia from the estate of Robert A "Borgy" Borgstrom of Wallingford.

Borgstrom turned his love of golf into a career that included working for Arnold Palmer/Pro Group International, among other companies, and over the years he collected scores of golf clubs, including more than 100 Scottish hickory-shaft models. The Borgstrom collection, which will go on the block at the beginning of the auction, also features two unusual clubs.

One is a rare 1920 Spalding measuring stick, used for customizing clubs for professional golfers, that Briggs president John Turner thinks might sell for up to $1,000. The other is a concave-face wedge identified with Walter Hagen that Bobby Jones used to win the British Open leg of his 1930 grand slam. The club was ruled illegal the next year by the United States Golf Association because, according to a website entry at www.livestrong.com, the concave face enabled the wedge to hit the ball twice in one swing. Turner expects it to sell for as much as $500.

Ephemera include 30 lots of books on golf and a program from the 1963 Whitemarsh Open signed by Arnold Palmer that should bring $100.

Preview: 9 a.m. to sale time Friday at the gallery at 1347 Naamans Creek Rd. For further information call 610-566-3138 or go to www.briggsauction.com.

Contact David Iams at daiams@comcast.net.

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